ScanImage 2018 : Supported Microscope Hardware


Scanhead Hardware

ScanImage 2016 supports a wide variety of scanning systems including linear (galvo/galvo, GG) and resonant/galvo (RG) systems. Resonant scanning with multiple
regions of interest (MROI) is supported for GG and resonant/galvo/galvo (RGG) systems. Parallel scanning systems are supported to provide simultaneous imaging
and photostimulation. 

Supported scanning configurations can be ordered as a preassembled system, or as individual components.


Cambridge Technology & others

Acquisition and Control Hardware


ScanImage 2015 and later allows users to configure their system for resonant scanning or linear scanning (=galvo only scanning). A microscope with two laser paths can combine both methods to allow for simultaneous imaging and photostimulation.

The sections below describe the basic acquisition and control hardware requirements for both imaging systems.


Resonant Scanning

ScanImage uses the National Instruments National Intruments FlexRIO platform for the core acquisition and control tasks for resonant two-photon laser scanning microscopy

ScanImage supports a handful of pre-specified FlexRIO system configurations

NI ScanImage Resonant Scanning Bundle


Vidrio Technologies offers National Instruments hardware bundles, to help users create valid configurations. If you also order a ScanImage optimized computer from us at the same time, Vidrio will install ScanImage and create a custom machine data file for your system.

Email us at for a ScanImage hardware bundle quote.

(info) See notes below for further information about the key options

Configuration Guide


Please see Configuring ResScan (Resonant Scanning) page for additional details. 


RoleItem(s)Performance characteristics
Chassis/controllerPXIe-1073 or better 
Scan Control DAQPXIe-6341NI PXI-based X Series DAQ

One of

NI Digitizer Module

  • 2 channel
  • 4 channel
FPGA Module

One of

NI PXI-based FlexRIO Module

  • Basic option
  • Performance option

For SI5 - there will be no difference in operation. Most users should order the PXIe-7961R.

Future versions may utilize the far greater (~10x) processing power of the PXIe-7975R.
The 7975R has been supported by SI5 since Fall 2014


Additional X Series multifunction DAQ boards for some features:

Pockels controlPCIe-6321 or PXIe-6341Highly recommended - allows blanking laser during resonant scanner slowdown and galvo scanner flyback
Piezo/Fast Z controlPCIe-6321 or PXIe-6341Allows for volume imaging applications

The PXIe option is moderately more expensive, but has some advantages:

  1. Simplifies wiring complexity between boards.
  2. Reduces the number of PCIe slots required in the computer (or makes more available).

Linear Scanning

ScanImage uses National Instruments Multifunction DAQ boards for image acquisition and microscope control.

Recommended hardware


PMT acquisition, galvo control


 For multi-PMT acquisition, a simultaneously sampled NI X-series board is required.


Pockels controlPCIe/PXIe-6341Highly recommended - allows blanking laser during resonant scanner slowdown and galvo scanner flyback
Piezo/FastZ controlPCIe/PXIe-6341Allows for volume imaging applications

Users upgrading from ScanImage 3.8 can reuse their existing PCI-6110/6132/6133 digitizers, but will need to purchase at least one additional X-series board (e.g. PCIe-6321). Please contact us at to learn about upgrade options from ScanImage 3.x

Configuration Guide


Please see Configuring LinScan (Galvo Galvo scanning) page for additional details.

Preamplifier Hardware

Photomultiplier tubes require a transimpedance amplifier for recording by ScanImage.

The optimal bandwidth depends on the sample rate and shortest pixel durations. 

For resonant scanning a bandwidth of at least 30 Mhz is recommended.

The Femto DHCPA-100 is a commercial off-the-shelf option suited for ScanImage 5 and later, at its 80MHz setting.

Thorlabs also makes a usable transimpedance amplifier. Please contact them directly for a part number and quote.

Computer Hardware


 Minimum Recommended

64-bit processor with 4 cores, ≥ 3GHz


  • Current recommended processors are the i7-8700K and i7-7700K. i5 versions of these processors will work but provide lower performance.

(info) Processors/systems with at least 6 cores may be valuable for future ScanImage or user-specific requirements combining TPLSM imaging with other simultaneous processing/acquisition


Matlab is single threaded in its base configuration, so that a high CPU clock rate is desirable. The fastest single thread processor is currently the i7-8700K. Xeon processors are poor choices for running ScanImage.



(info) Additional RAM may be valuable for future ScanImage or user-specific requirements, e.g. online image analysis done in User Functions 

PCIe slots
  • (usually) PCIe x16 for a graphics card.
  • (required) PCIe x1 for MXI controller connecting to the PXI chassis

(info) If PCIe based DAQ's (e.g. PCIe-6341) are used for Beams and Fast Z features, then additional PCIe slots will be required. Only the PCIe x1 slot for the MXI controller card is strictly required when using a PXIe chassis.

(info) Additional PCIe slots may be valuable for future ScanImage or other user-specific requirements

Hard Drives

A separate drive or partition for OS and data logging/storage is recommended, to avoid contention.

Either a RAID 0 magnetic drive pair or solid-state drive (SSD), whole or partition, is recommended for data logging/storage, to achieve write performance >300Mb/second.


  • Drive for OS plus separate solid-state drive (SSD) for data logging/storage


  • Drive for OS plus two 7200 rpm hard drives in RAID 0 configuration to achieve 300 Mb/sec write speed for data logging
  • M.2 drive for OS provides optimal performance for ScanImage
  • Ultra-fast data storage > 5Gb/sec can be achieved if necessary.
  • Windows 7 Professional
  • Windows 8.1 Professional
  • Windows 10 Professional


Piezo Hardware (Optional)

VendorControllerCompatible PiezosComments
Physik Instrumente

E-709 (CHG)

PIFOC piezos (e.g. P-721, P-725, P-725.xDD, P-725KHDS) 
nPointLC.40xnPFocus objectivesOptions from 100um to 1000um of travel
Generic  Any focusing device accepting a -10V..10V analog command signal.


Stage Hardware (Optional)

VendorStage ControllersSI 5.2SI2016
SutterMP-285, MPC-200(tick)(tick)
TholabsMCM3000, MCM5000, Bergamo II Scope(tick)(tick)

Patchstar (2), Slice Scope

Physik InstrumenteE-665, E-709 (CHG), E-753, C-884, C-863(tick)(tick)
nPointLC.400 Series(tick)(tick)
GalilDMC 4040 (tick)
Luigs & NeumannSM5, SM7 (tick)
PriorProScan III (tick)

*Requires MATLAB Instrument Control Toolbox

SLM Hardware (Optional)

Meadowlark OpticsPCIe8 (ODP series)
Meadowlark OpticsPCIe16
Meadowlark Optics1920x1152 SLM
-DVI/HDMI controlled SLM

Camera Hardware


FLIR/PointgreyUSB3, GigE
uManagerVariety of cameras